The premier web site of Edo speaking people.

Nation of people who are mostly located in the Midwestern part of Nigeria, Western  Africa.







2-4TH September 2005


Irene Isoken Oronsaye-Salami (PhD)

Associate Professor & Visiting Fulbright Scholar to University of California,

Los Angeles.


Nigerian politics is predominately politics of men, men dominate the political arena, men formulate the rules of the political game and men define the standards for evaluation. Political life is based on male norms and values and in some cases even male lifestyle. Women are marginal to national politics, and more generally, to the public and private life of our nation. As a result, one of the greatest challenges of the Edo woman today, as with all Nigerian women, is her exclusion from the political space and her invisibility in political affairs. Considering this invisibility, it is not surprising that very few women have gained access into the political arena. It is worth noting at this point that in pre-colonial times some women exerted political influence and power, leading armies to battle, and engaging in statecraft. In situations of wars, conflict and extreme oppression, many women have arisen to �deliver their lands�. These women were unique in their times as they tried to subvert male hegemony which was dominant in their period. In recent times, many critics concerned with the politics of marginalization have challenged the low participation of women and advised that women or gender friendly political strategies are adopted in order to boost gender equity in political participation.


This paper therefore, in exploring the changing patterns of women�s participation in Edo politics, will attempt to answer questions like: Are women really shadowy figures on the verge of men�s political arena? Are women invisible in modern Edo politics? Were women invisible in pre-colonial Edo politics? Have they ever had access to or possessed political power? Has sexism operated as a bias in the exclusion of the Edo women from politics? How effective has the mechanism of bringing more women into government, and their impact on the perceived legitimacy of women in power been? etc. Answers to these questions will facilitate the resolution of the imbalance and help reconfigure the political stage in Edo state and the nation as a whole.



The drive to promote women in decision-making position worldwide gathered momentum during the 1980�s and early 1990�s through a series of international conferences. The climax of it all was at the fourth women�s Conference held in Beijing, China in 1995, which called for at least 30 percent representation by women in national governments. In September 2000, world leaders again at the UN Millennium Summit in New York adopted the goal of gender equity. The political climate in Africa is fast changing in favour of women. As a result of this development, the number of women in leadership positions has been on the rise. Corroborating this, the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, stressed that when women participate in development, the benefits are immediate - families are healthier, better fed, and  better off financially. �And what is true of families is also true of communities and, in the long run, of whole countries.�


In Africa, the recent trend of increased democratization has opened up spaces and opportunities in politics for women, especially in east and southern Africa. There are more women in South Africa, Rwanda and Uganda in politics than in many developed democracies. This significant achievement owes to explicit affirmative action in political institutions and processes to favour women�s participation.  West Africa is still grappling with several constraints, which impede her advancement into the political arena. Rwanda women now top the world rankings of women in national parliaments, with 49% of representation compared to a world average of 15.1 percent. With this development, Rwanda now overtake long-time leader, Sweden, where women constitute 45% of parliamentarians. Women in Rwanda have achieved a lot politically; they participated effectively in the drafting of the new constitution, developing guidelines that guaranteed seats for women candidates. Also, 7 of the top 25 countries of women in parliament are from Africa. There are more countries like South Africa, Uganda, Seychelles and Mozambique, which have long surpassed the 30 per cent minimum threshold in decision-making for women recommended in the Beijing Platform of Action, in 1995.


So far, in Africa we�ve had only one woman heading her country, Madam Ruth (headed the interim �government of Liberia), Agathe Uwilingiymana who fought to end women�s oppression in her country, became prime minister of Rwanda and was murdered on the 6th April 1994 by the presidential guard. In Burundi, Slyvie Kingi was also appointed prime minister in October 1993 just before the murder of President Melchior Ndadaye by Tutsi troops, she held this postition for four months. We�ve also had one woman vice-president, Dr Specioza Kazibwe of Uganda. Mrs Johnson is making giant strides in her campaign for a presidential seat in Liberia.


Although Africa has made this huge progress in women�s political participation in the past few years, than had been made in the past four decades, rising tenfold to more than 14% in 2003, women are still not adequately represented in local structures in many countries, except where conscious efforts are made to guarantee a quota for them. As a result of this under representation and participation in decision-making at local and national levels, the situation in regional and international levels is minimal. African women�s participation at regional organisations such as the African Union is zero percent, as Africa does not have a female president. African women are further marginalized at international forum especially in international financial institutions like the World Bank, IMF, and World Trade Organisation. In spite of the fact that these organisations take decisions that greatly affect women, yet, there is no mechanism put in place for women�s participation. The various countries continue to put forward male representatives who in most cases are the countries� leaders. As a result African women have continued to bear the consequences of the policies enforced by these institutions. Women�s participation in politics, governance and the decision making process can contribute in redefining policies, placing new items on the agenda which address women�s specific concerns, values, experiences, and provide new perspective on mainstream issues.


The progress made in some of these few countries like, South Africa, Rwanda, etc., can be attributed to the successes made by women leaders in ensuring that new national constitutions are gender sensitive and based on gender equality, and in addition, strict implementation of gender quota. Gender quota is now being viewed as an important policy measure for boosting women�s access to decision-making bodies throughout the world. In Africa, over 20 countries have legislated quota and in some cases, political parties have adopted them voluntarily. In some countries, enforcing legislation is often an uphill task. Without women�s participation in the judiciary, parliamentary systems and in mainstream decision-making positions, it will be difficult to initiate any change for women. Without women�s active participation at all levels of decision-making in Africa, the goals of equality, development and peace cannot be achieved. Also, more women representation will help governments in region to achieve accountability and transparency, which are very crucial to democracy.


Nigerian Women and Politics

Although women in Southern Africa achieved commitment for a one third quota in the eighties (the lobby has now moved to 50/50 call for parity), West Africa is still very much behind; however, Nigerian women are taking the lead in pressurising government to meet up the 30% quota for women. Regardless of the social and political advances made, women generally continue to be exploited in every society in the world, in such a way that their social and political advances are met with stiff resistance. At the side meetings of the Commonwealth People�s Forum held in Nigeria, government and civil societies were urged to take concrete actions utilizing opportunities to promote affirmative action for women at all levels of representation in government. Nigerian women have also requested in addition to this, that a proportion of jobs in civil service be reserved for them.


In Nigeria, like in other parts of the world, women are at least half the country�s population of over 130 million people, yet this numerical strength of women does not automatically translate to increase in women�s representation in governance or decision-making position, and increase in the representation of women�s interests or concern�s in governance. Whereas in South Africa, women are now pushing for equal representation on the political candidature list, (one woman for every man) in Nigeria, resistance to women�s participation in decision-making positions is still very wide spread. Commenting on this Nana Tankoh of Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA), said: �Affirmative Action is resisted at community level by traditional and religious leaders. There is resistance in political parties, where women are not engaged (in the centre of power) where the lists are prepared.�  Men feel that the entrance of women into the political arena, will steal the political spotlight from them. Nigeria cannot claim to be a democratic country until there is visible evidence in practical terms, a radical turn around in the conditions of women generally and that they have been empowered to have access to all aspects of governance as equal partners with their male counterpart. By being excluded from key positions in political party organs, the tradition of women as housewives whose places are in the kitchen and not the political arena are being portrayed and perpetuated. If the hallmark of a democratic society is plurality of expressed opinions and contributions by those living within it, then the participation of women in leadership positions ought to be valued and encourage, for democracy will only be democracy, when men and women as equal partners deliberate upon the national policies and legislations.  The sooner men begin to open up the corridors of power to women the better for our democratic process. The continued exclusion of women from the decision making position will slow down the pace of development of the democratic process and stunt economic growth of the nation because men govern most political institutions which they use to further their interest and will not promote women or women�s issues.


 When policy decisions and laws are being made for the benefit of all members of society, the extent to which the government body is able to carry everybody along will determine the degree to which its decision will be appropriate and meet the needs of the entire nation. Proper representation of women and the inclusion of their perspective into the decision-making process will inevitably lead to solutions that are viable and satisfy a broader section of the society. To conceptualise the issues which will affect citizens� lives without taking into consideration the situations is no longer tenable in the twenty-first century.  Taking into cognizance the gendered perspective and involving women and men in decision-making process is the hallmark of any genuine democratic framework. This is why democracy, by definition cannot afford to be gender blind. It must strive to achieve equality and representation of women and men in any decision making process. Women need to be present in the decision-making process to bring about the radical change in structures of power.


Since independence in 1960, women�s participation in Nigerian politics has been only in the shadowy fringes. Yet when it is time for election, women are mobilized to vote. Women are considered only good for dancing, after which they are given insignificant gifts like bags of rice, salt, maggi cubes etc.  The whole essence of encouraging women to dance is to distract their attention from power and to keep them perpetually in subordinate position. They seem to forget that it is a woman�s fundamental right to participate in governance. Increased participation of women in governance is being threatened by practises already discarded by other democratic countries. The political field is very uneven; there is a structural plan to perpetually sideline women from the political space. Women are marginalized in both elective and political appointments. Political parties fail to nominate them as candidates and the electorate, which is greatly influenced by gender stereotypes in the society, ends up voting for men.   Political scientists have attributed this low participation of women in politics to various factors, ranging from cultural inhibitions which is perpetuated and reinforced by patriarchal norms that relegate women to the margin and require them to be seen and not heard, Cultural views about the woman continue to devalue her dignity and worth and the society see women as unequal to men. The political playing field is uneven and not conducive for women�s participation. Women who enter politics find the political, cultural and social environment often not women-friendly. Political violence has taken centre stage in Nigerian politics as many politicians in the country today rely on this strategy for attaining electoral victory; this scares many women off and presents the political environment as very hostile. Political brutality are employed to distract women�s attention from participating, sometimes they are beaten up, their family members are threatened, their marriages are set up for destruction, and these strategies scare women from the political race. Women�s limited access to economic resources has been linked to their political powerlessness. In Nigeria today, participation in politics involves huge financial investment because it is assumed that electoral victory amounts to a poverty eradication initiative for the victor as victory guarantees access to the national treasury for looting. This therefore has made attaining an elective or appointive position in government highly competitive and nearly out of reach to women, for women do not have equal opportunities as men to accumulate wealth and increase their economic base. Family responsibility has also been seen as one of the main impediment to women�s participation in politics, most of the family responsibilities fall on the woman as gender division of labour in our society encourages men to relinquish all domestic chores to women. This constitutes an obstacle to political activism.


Other practices that hinder women�s participation in politics includes nocturnal meetings, �godfatherism�, name calling, old boys� network, religious beliefs, institutionalised resistance to gender equity within the apparatus of governance etc. While the Nigerian government has ratified a number of international instruments to promote women in politics, none has been domesticated; this in itself is a major hindrance to participation. Cultural and traditional practices subjecting women to male dominance have hindered women�s progress in achieving gender equality in politics. They are confronted with several barriers, like conflict, intimidation, stereotypes by society, negative image of women involved in politics and lack of support from the electorate. In Nigeria, women politicians confront �a masculine model� of politics. In most cases, they lack the political party support and have no access to quality education and training to enter politics.  


Men have argued that women naturally are apolitical; this is not true as women in contemporary times as in the past have been known to do exploits, Margaret Ekpo, Gambo Sawaba, Funmilayo Ramsome Kuti, Aba and Ibiobio women of 1929 war, etc were very active politically. The privileging of men by the colonial administration and the marginalisation of women empowered men to the detriment of women. This move initiated the exclusion of women from the political space in Nigeria. The colonial administration simply swept aside previous female political structures in the society, replacing them with completely male structures and positions.  Their masculinist policies gradually eroded the spaces women once occupied during the pre-colonial era and enabled men to subvert the political system.


However, we must not forget the fact that a number of women lack the confidence needed to lead, they have imbibed the traditional belief that men are born leaders and as such do not stand a chance against them at the polls, so �why contest?� they ask.  The myth that women are their own enemies is often used to discourage women from political participation. I agree with Obioma Nnaemeka�s explanation that this lack of support of women for their fellow women is often the result of institutionalized, hierarchical female spaces that make women victims and collaborators in patriarchal violence.


A very vital political weapon, which is working against women, is the lack of interest by the media in giving female politicians adequate coverage. The media has failed to project the contributions and potentials of women politicians�. They would rather portray women as beauticians, fashion designers, movie stars, lovers, good and bad wives, husband snatchers, witches, diabolical, wicked, fashion conscious, good teachers and nurses, thereby perpetuating the already existing stereotypes in the society. On the other hand, women have not come to appreciate the full importance of media relations. They do not understand that investing in media coverage is one major tool the men have used to keep themselves ahead of them. Good media coverage goes a long way to winning elections as large sums of money. In recent times political scientists have cited sexism as a major obstacle on the way of women�s political advancement. Studies have shown that the military administration bred sexism in the political culture of the country. It was deeply so deeply rooted in the military regime that women-devaluing attitudes were fostered, in a male dominated, male-oriented military environment. All these obstacles work together to enhance the invisibility of women in the political �centre stage.


The fourth Republic, which began in 1999 ushered in an era of little respite for those who had prayed, lobbied, canvassed for better political empowerment for women. Women participated more actively at the level of party politics. Only a small percentage of them contested for elective posts in the general elections of 1999. With all the cries for enforcing Affirmative Action, only less than five per cent of the elective positions at the federal, state, and local government levels were occupied by women between 1999 and 2003. In the power structure, the higher the pyramid of power, the lower the participation of women. President Olusegun Obasanjo tried to correct this by appointing during his first tenure 9 women as ministers and advisers out of a total of 44. States like Ogun and few others did not have a single female commissioner in the first lap of the fourth Republic. Thank goodness, anyway, the same state now has a woman as a deputy-governor and Speaker of the House of Assembly. Who say miracles do not happen? Relatively, 2003 brought better deals for women although there was no remarkable difference. Even when most of the political parties waived the levies imposed on aspirants for women, the response of female politicians was not so commensurate with the potential of that opening. Two women contested for the presidency while two went for vice presidential slot.  None of them was elected.


During a national television program on the 26th of April 2003, the Vice President, Alh. Atiku Abubakar, at a PDP victory party at Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja; declared that women voters at the 2003 elections were three times more than men voters� nation wide. He then promised to compensate the women for their dedication, commitment and selfless efforts, with increased representation in governance. President Obasanjo also reiterated this appreciation and promise when he made his own speech. Well this promise of increase representation got Nigerian women 9 portfolios at the executive council. What if they had not out numbered the male voters?  This na monkey dey work, bamboo dey chop.  However, the present administration needs to be commended for their improvement on the record set by past military and civilian administrations. It is worth noting especially at the federal level, that the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo has demonstrated more confidence in Nigerian women than his predecessors.  Today, the two ministers for finance are women, education, solid minerals, are also manned (or may I say �womanned�) by very competent and reputable women.  The present federal cabinet is made up of 7 female ministers and ministers of state. There are more in the life of this present administration who are in the process of proving (that is if it is necessary to do so) that women are not only meant for the kitchen. Even with all these signs of comparative improvement, it is important to state here that Nigeria is still far away from the target (of giving women their due).



Women and Political Participation in Edo State

In Edo state, the political arena is not radically different from the other parts of the country. There is political imbalance in favour of men; women are rendered nearly invisible and excluded from the political spaces, which is often regarded as the male preserve. Male politicians characterise politics as patriarchal and excessively masculinistist. Their ideological aim is to perpetuate and legitimise patriarchy in the political system. Women�s participation is peripheralised. Unfortunately, Edo politicians have little regard for the position of women in the state distribution of power. The political scene is characterised by inadequate representation of women. Irrespective of women�s mobilization of voters, the contributions of women are often trivialised.


 It is pertinent to note here that this paucity of female politicians and their participation in the decision making process is not a heritage of the past, for our foremothers were known to have accomplished great things; displayed exceptional skill and talent; stood up against oppression, injustice and contributed much to the society. They had difficult challenges, which they surmounted and were still able to participate. In this regard we remember the likes of Emotan of Benin who single-handedly raised an army and overthrew the illegal regime of Oba Uwaifiokun, and helped to install Oba Ewuare the Great, one of the most outstanding obas of ancient Benin Kingdom. Queen Idia, the first Iyoba (Queen mother) of Benin, led the army of ancient Benin Kingdom to the Idah war.  Through her ingenuity, Benin defeated the Attah of Igala.  Queen Iden, though she did not go to the war front, procured the throne of Benin with her blood by choosing to die so her husband Oba Ewuapke would recover his lost glory as a king. Hers was politics of love. The reign of Queen Ubi is shrouded in mystery till this day. Many feminist historians have cause to believe that Ubi�s purported offence of bed-wetting is too trivial to warrant the punishment she was served. They are of the opinion that she probably challenged the political structure of her time. On the other hand, Queen Ewere�s role as a docile and subjugated wife is today commemorated with a state festival, ugiewere. It is therefore not surprising that Ubi�s confrontational disposition was strongly resisted and condemned. Princess Edelayo, daughter of Oba Ewuare the Great and the sister of Olua, was known to have been a very powerful and rich woman. She was as powerful as any Oba on the throne, and was about to be crowned king when the Kingmakers for the some flimsy excuse interrupted her ascension.  Princess Edelayo, daughter of Oba Ozolua was crowned Edaiken (heir apparent to the throne) when her younger brother refused to become king, but was later divested due to mere feminine indisposition. As a result of this, the Uzamas (king makers) and Eghaevbo (executive council) enacted a law permanently prohibiting women form becoming king in Ancient Benin Kingdom.


Others like Oba Ozolua daughters, Adedeku and Imagbogho were very rich and powerful. Princess Imagbogho is known to have assisted her father in his battle against Elekidi of Ogbelaka. Ikpoghodu and Uwahen, daughters of Oba Obanosa, were known to be very powerful and influential too. Aghayubini, daughter of Oba Osemwende was renowned for her vast resources; she is remembered in oral history for the great help she rendered her brother Oba Adolor to gain the throne of Benin. Princess Evbakhavbokun, the eldest daughter of Oba Ovonramwen was also known to have been very rich and influential.   In the Ogiso�s dynasty, there are records to show that some women were rulers; however, due to feminine indisposition too, and palace intrigues perpetuated by the king makers, the reign of female Ogiso�s came to an abrupt end. The reign of women was so abhorred that when it was rumoured that prince Odogbo, the only son of Oba Ehengbuda was a girl because he was very handsome, with feminine features, the father had to make him walk naked in the company of his attendants, from Uselu to Benin City to dispel the rumour. Another influential woman in pre-colonial Benin included Eyowo the wife of Elekidi of Ogbelaka, who fought gallantly beside her husband in their battle against the Oba. After the fall of her husband Oba Ozolua married her and later killed her because he was scared that she might revolt against him in future.


Since the creation of Edo State in 1991, female representation has been very minimal, below the 30% affirmative action. The political road for women has been a very rough and bumpy one. Gender is not mainstreamed into the political process. Contrary to the views some people may hold, most women who have achieved greatness or recognition have not done so principally on the platter of compromise. History records that like her male counterpart, and I dare say more than them in many cases, they have to go through rigours. They have had to swim against the tide of prejudice and pride of the opposite sex to win laurels and positions. This brings to my mind the deeds of an illustrious daughter of Edo state, Franka Afebgua, the first woman senator in Nigeria was easily a star to watch and an envy in the Second Republic Nigeria. At a time when it was most unfashionable for women to engage in serious politics, she looked beyond her salons and beauty parlours in Lagos, Kaduna and Kano and went into the men�s arena with all she had.


Since then other women in Edo state have participated and held decision-making positions and these include, commissioners in the military and civilian administrations: Mrs Margaret Unukegwo, Prof Agnes E Uduebo commissioner of Education, Mrs Helen Lola- Ebueku Ministry of Information (1998-1999), Mrs Tolu Eboreme. The present administration in April 2000 -2005 brought in three women, Mrs Haberta Okonofua-Ayu, Women Affairs & Social Development, and Mrs Medinatu Kadiri, both served as commissioners in the first tenure of the present administration, Mrs Lucy Omagbon, Lands and Housing and later Education, the longest serving female member of Edo state Executive Council, she survived various cabinet shake-ups. She was replaced recently. Others are Barr. Siiawu Inu-Umoru Momoh, Women Affairs and Social Development, Lady Omorede Osifo Tourism, Arts & Culture, Mrs Elizabeth Edemwandagbon, Education, Mrs Florence Igbinigie-Erabor. Some female permanent Secretaries who served in the past include, Mrs Winifred Anyanru Onyewu, Justice Gladys Kpenikpe Olotu, Ministry of Justice, was later appointed a federal High Court judge, Mrs Ikponmwonba, Ministry of Justice. The Honorable Chief judge of Edo State Justice Constance Momoh, has recently retired and Justice Oni-Okpako (Mrs) has taken over from her. Dr Jacinta Afe was the Head of service at a time in this administration.


In the legislative arm, the trend of under representation of women still prevail, Mrs Esohe Jacobs is a two time state legislator in the State House of Assembly. She is easily the vocal and visible member of the House since 1999; she sponsored a bill against female genital mutilation. She shares two-time membership profile of the House with Hon. Elizabeth Ighodaro. Grace Bazuaye, the People Democratic Party woman leader in Edo State, Mrs Rose Alli-Zuberu have also graced the list of women who have seized various opportunities to participate in governance.


Hon. Daisy  Abieyuwa Ehanire-Danjuma is one of the three female senators in the upper house and she has become a trail blazer in her efforts to empower Nigerian women. Ifueko Omoigui, Honourable Chairperson of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is redefining fiscal administration in Abuja. Few weeks ago an Edo woman in the person of Haberta Okonofua-Ayu was elected as the PDP National Woman Leader, an enormous task I must say, and the highest position for women within the party framework. With her wealth of experience of having being the wife of a leading Nigerian politician, the daughter of a political leader in Edo State, her educational background as a sociologist and a political scientist, her experience as a one time commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development in Edo State, no doubt Haberta Okonfua-Ayu is set to restore political dignity to womanhood both in Nigeria and Edo state.


With this new development, Edo women are gradually invading political spaces hither-to reserved for and dominated by men. The recent visibility of female politicians is gradually subverting these exclusionary and marginalizing practices, for those politician who are completely dismissive are being challenged by those who value the centrality of women in decision-making position and the call by women for meaningful participation. They are now bringing new angles and insights to politics, raising their voices against what they consider politics of exclusion and increasingly dismantling the male codes inscribed in Edo politics as they rise up to challenge and reconstruct the political system by positioning themselves in the political spaces. The attitude of men that women are intruding into their party is being challenged.  However, it is important to note that their brand of politics does not in anyway pose any threat to men as it advocates complimentarity. No single gender can make any enduring progress without the help of the other. There is need for collaborative work between them.


Conclusion & Strategies for Maximizing Women� Political Participation


 No doubt sexism has operated as a bias of exclusion in Edo state political arena. At this stage, it is important that all women begin to reorganise their lives with the political power about their governance in their own hands. According to Ada Azodo, it is only by assuming agency for their plight that a people can create their own subjectivity out of objectification by cruel institutions. It is now imperative that women should move from the margin to reconfigure the political centre stage. Edo women now need to fight to change the status quo through activism, engagement in the issues of the moment by becoming involved and negotiating with the men who must be persuaded to give up some of their privileges and power for men are yet to capture fully, the essence of women�s participatory right. Since women form a substantial portion of Edo state�s population, excluding them would rob the country of fresh ideas and inputs in governance, thus, posing a significant threat to democracy.


Although many have called on national organizations to take responsibility within their own organisation to systematically promote women�s participation, from the bottom up, some have continued to insist that the main responsibility falls on women themselves, claiming that in any society and in situation it is those most affected who must bring about change. �Those who are privileged benefit from a system that marginalises others. It is up to us, the women.� At a workshop held to sensitize female politicians in Lagos, Nigeria, a participant, Chief (Mrs) Akande, was quoted as saying, �Politics is where power is and that is where women must be. Nothing will change unless and until women have the necessary number to make the difference�! This is so very true. Edo state is wasting precious resources today as she abandon thousands of women, talented women who are ready to use their professional expertise in public life; but are dramatically under represented in positions of political leadership in every sphere in the state. Political parties-the gateways to political offices � are keys to advancing women�s full participation in the political process. It is not enough for parties to establish women�s wings or place women at the bottom end of party lists; they must develop real avenues for women�s leadership roles. We must all agree that women have been colonized politically for too long. The excuses that are made for their exclusion are baseless. They are not strong enough to deny a person of her right to leadership. We must be sensitive to global political moves for we live in an ever-changing world. It will not wait for us, it is moving on. Until we are willing to change we cannot expect results. So Edo state needs to position herself for a positive change so that we will continue to remain relevant.   



1. Gender quota is now increasingly been viewed as an important policy measure for boosting women�s access to political positions throughout the world. In Africa over 20 countries have legislated quota system as an instrument to creating opportunities for women in decision-making positions. UNIFEM has noted that increasing women�s share of seats in the parliament alone is not a solution; it does not guarantee that they will make decisions that benefit the majority of women. �It can only level the playing field on which women battle for equality.� In Nigeria, many women activist are of the opinion that implementing quota may constitute a problem. While introducing quotas provide a means of addressing the gender imbalance in decision making, the practice often lacks support from important political actors or meets opposition in societies like Edo state that have strong patriarchal traditions. Those opposed to quota system say they discriminate against men. Many gender activists also argue that quotas may constitute a �glass ceiling� beyond which women cannot go unless they engage in additional struggle. Others contend that women who are in power under such a system may be undervalued or viewed as not politically deserving. Supporting this Mata Sy Diallo, former female Vice President of the Senegalese National Assembly say, that quotas �can only be a transitory solution not a cure for the makings of a true democracy.� Be it a transitory measure or permanent one, there is need to raise the awareness of the use gender quotas as an instrument to increase political representation of women. There should be coordinated, organized pressure from groups for the creation and implementation of quotas for women


2. Political parties should be motivated to deliberately recruit women candidate to run for public office


3. Commit meaningful financial support to women candidates


4. Provide specialized campaign skills training targeted at women�s needs including policy development, debating, techniques, networking, advocating, public speaking, leadership, media, grassroots mobilising, strategic planning, confidence building and fund raising.


5.  Educate journalist on the importance of women in politics and governance.


6. Work to increase women�s political credibility and by encouraging partnerships between women party members and party leaders.


7. Intensify voters� outreach to women by using the party platform to develop messages for and about women.


8. Advocate for the appointment of more women to cabinet-level positions and other high government positions.


9. Diversify portfolios of women.


10. Affirmative Action must be pursued as a political front


11. Knit together the coalition that will build support for affirmative action.


12. Promote Affirmative Action through constitutional and legislative reform as an important strategy in bringing about transformation and creating a critical mass of women in decision-making positions who can challenge the status quo through access to male-dominated area.


13. Establish a legal framework that will make affirmative action work.


14. Institutionalise sex discrimination law.


14. Linkages-building among various NGOs, groups working for women�s political participation and individual women in politics, to develop candidate support and build constituencies for women and women�s issues.


15. Women�s wing of political parties can function as lobby groups for women�s full participation in politics. Women politicians from different parties should also be encouraged to get together and create a woman�s voice in parliament


16.  Networking and the development of solidarity among women are keys to women�s participation. Women must endeavour to utilize this at both national and regional level.


17. Formulate a policy framework for mainstreaming gender and institutional framework for advancing gender equality.


18 Review and challenge electoral processes and discriminatory practices that halt women�s aspirations to decision-making, including violence against women, to create a level playing field and ensure that the legal policy framework allows for the equality between women and men by outlawing oppressive traditional and cultural practices;


19.  Domesticate and implement international, regional and sub-regional instruments on gender equality including CEDAW and Beijing Platform of Action to enhance women�s participation in decision-making at all levels. And established mechanisms and indicators for monitoring their implementation at international, regional, and national levels


20. Women should participate effectively in the drafting of national constitutions, developing guidelines that are gender-friendly, which guarantee seats for women candidates.


21. Teach women to be assertive in expressing their political ideas and desire.





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